“Woman’s stories must be told. We must end the silence of Junia and give Junia her voice again. So I’m urging you… tell the stories of women in what you write”
I sat in class engaging in a tense, but civil discussion about the role of women in the church and in relationships. I stated (as calmly as I could) that woman should be treated as equals with men in society, in relationships, and also in the church. Many disagreed with me, especially on the issue of woman leadership in the church. One girl spoke up. Her response was since there were no important women, historically or presently, who have been leaders in Christianity this is a sign that this role simply isn’t for women.
Hold that thought.
This is where Scot McKnight’s helpful and educational book Junia is not Alone comes in. In just a short eBook McKnight gives a brief but truly inspirational description of woman through out Biblical and Church history and how, unfortunately, they have been silenced or “murdered” as McKnight metaphorically puts it.
Thinking back on that situation I wish I could have asked that girl…
What about Deborah who was judge and prophet to the nation of Israel?
What about Mary who birthed Christ?
What about Junia, the female apostle? Yes that means that she preached, performed miracles, and spread the gospel.
What about Pricilla? Who taught Apollos who then went on to become an apostle in Corinth?
What about Phoebe the Deacon? McKnight writes that she wasn’t the woman who “gathered communion wafers and small plastic cups of grape juice and washed them” but an actual church leader who contributed to financially supporting Paul’s ministry.
What about Ruth, Rebecca, Miriam, Esther, and Huldah?
McKnight discusses these women, giving the reader insight into who they were and why they matter. This is only part of the book however. In the second half he describes how the apostle Junia was almost lost forever. McKnight gives solid evidence that the brief, but damaging era in which scholars changed Junia’s gender was out of social prejudice instead of legitimate scholarship.
The book then continues to tell stories of woman through out church history who have been silenced. So much so that historians have knowledge of their stories and accomplishments, but we as modern readers will never know their names. Men have made sure of that.
This is awful, saddening, and infuriating but the fact that McKnight tells their stories is also what makes this book such an important read. For by us learning about them, their heroic acts against injustice can finally be honored and recognized. He breaks the silence.
It is about time the church stops silencing the women of the Bible in order to silence woman today. It needs to stop. Junia is Not Alone is a call to preach empowerment, encourage it, write about it, and help people no matter what their gender to pursue their calling. More education and less oppression. As Scot McKnight beautifully states, it is time to let the “gospel’s inclusiveness have it’s way with us.”
We are all created equal and although there are many more books out there tackling the issue of women rights within Christianity in all its totality Junia is Not Alone is a great, powerful, and persuasive starting place.